After choosing your boat size, take a ganger at that yellow sticker near the rear of the boat by the transom.
There will be a recommended HP (Horse-Power) rating for that boat. This is the maximum size engine that could be put on the boat safely.
This is also used to protect the integrity of the hull. If you put too much weight on the transom, it could buckle and fail.
FYI – I put a 13hp longtail on my 1436 jon boat rated for a 15hp engine and it weakened the transom. I contacted Alumicraft about it and they said they would not warranty it because I voided my warranty by installing a mud motor on it. So… keep that in mind whether you go with a different brand or report your issue differently.
So, engine size. In short: I would go with a Predator Engine from Harbor Freight. They are the most affordable and the easiest accessible engine there is for single cylinder engines.
If the engine runs without issue for the first ten hours, it’s golden. If you experience any issues within the first ten hours, exchange it for a new engine and try again.
Once you get into V-Twin engines, then you can do the 22hp Predator Engine or spend a little more money and get a Vanguard Briggs Engine which is some of the best engines out right now and doesn’t break the bank.
Harbor Freight Engines
- Rated for 5hp or less = The 3hp Predator Engine is your best bet unless you want to pay a lot more for a Honda Engine. You may also be able to fit a 6.5hp engine on it depending on the boat size and reinforcement. Check the yellow sticker and see what other people have done.
- Rated for 10hp or less = You have the option of a 6.5hp 212cc engine and an 8hp 301cc engine.
- The 6.5hp is VERY popular. Lots of replacement and upgradable parts along with A LOT of people who have them so you can fix an issue pretty quickly.
- The 8hp 301cc engine is not that popular and I would not recommend it unless in a unique situation.
- Unique situation: you can’t fit a 13hp engine on your boat but you need to power through mud and vegetation. The 6.5hp engine can go through some stuff, but it lacks the torque to really power through. The 8hp gives you that extra torque you need.
- Rated for 15hp or less = The main option is the 13hp 420cc engine. If you have EXTRA money, you could spend a lot more on the 13hp V-twin Vanguard Briggs engine. I’ve heard it is a sweet running engine.
- Most people go with the 13hp Predator engine. I would say it is the MOST POPULAR engine on the market. This means issues can be fixed easily with the help of a large community and parts are easily accessible whether for replacement or upgrading. This 13hp is best paired with a 1436 and is the best setup in my eyes. 60349 is the Hemi version if you can find it
- Rated 20hp or less = I haven’t found a jon boat with this rating. It’s either had a 15 HP Max rating or a 25 HP Max rating. You could probably squeeze the 22hp Predator on a boat with this rating but check with others to see if any issues came up. You could also do a 16hp or 18hp V-twin Vanguard Engine.
- Rated 25hp or less = The 22hp Predator is the go-to engine for this setup. It is the least expensive and easily accessible. You also have the Vanguard engines which I see a lot more people using and they seem to really be gaining popularity. It’s just hard finding information on them with all the different variants and attachments you can order on them.